Battle of Baiji (2014)

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Battle of Baiji (October–December 2014)
Part of Iraq Civil War (2014–present) and
the Military intervention against ISIL and
the Salahuddin campaign (2014–15)
Date29 October – 21 December 2014
(1 month, 3 weeks and 1 day)

ISIL victory

  • Iraqi Army takes control of Baiji and breaks the siege of the oil refinery in mid-November 2014[5][6]
  • ISIL recaptures the city and re-establishes the siege of the oil refinery in late December 2014
Iraq Iraq
Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq
Iran Iran[1]
 United States[2]
 United Kingdom[3]
Canada Canada[4]
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Commanders and leaders
Iraq Haidar al-Abadi
Iraq Khaled Obeidi
Iraq Saleh Jaber[7]
Akram al-Kabi[8]
Iran Qasem Soleimani[8]
United States Barack Obama
United Kingdom David Cameron
Canada Stephen Harper

Abu Ayman al-Iraqi 
(Head of Military Shura)[9][10]
Abu Suleiman
(Replacement Military Chief)[10]

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Muslim al-Turkmani 
(Deputy, Iraq)[11]
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Nabil al-Anbari
(ISIL Governor of the Saladin Governorate)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Athir Masha'al Hamad 
(Senior ISIL commander)[12]
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Wasfa Makhlaf Majul Abu Ubaidi 
(Senior ISIL commander)[12]
Units involved

Iraq Iraqi Armed Forces

Shia militias
Qods Force[8]

 United States Air Force
 Royal Air Force
 Royal Canadian Air Force

Military of ISIL

  • Anti-Government Fighters
Casualties and losses
Unknown 100+ killed[15]
197+ killed and 122 wounded[16]

The Battle of Baiji (October–December 2014) was a battle that took place in Baiji, Iraq. In mid-November 2014, Iraqi forces retook the city of Baiji, and re-entered the Baiji Oil Refinery. However, clashes continued in the region, and on 21 December 2014, ISIL forces captured Baiji and put the Baiji Oil Refinery under siege once again.


On 11 June 2014, ISIL insurgents advanced into Baiji, seizing the main court house and police station and setting them on fire. The militants, who were travelling in a group of around 60 vehicles, also took control of the Baiji prison and freed all the inmates within. Local residents told members of the media that ISIL sent a group of local tribal chiefs ahead of them to convince the 250 guards at the oil plant to withdraw, while soldiers and police had been warned to leave as well.[17] Later in the day, militants reportedly retreated from Baiji either due to persuasion from local tribal leaders[18] or due to reinforcements from the Iraqi Army's Fourth Armored Division arriving in the city.[19] However, the next day it was confirmed ISIL was still in control of the town, except the refinery which was surrounded.[20]

On 18 June, ISIL attacked the refinery with mortars and machine guns.[21] An official from inside the refinery stated the militants had captured 75 percent of the facility, while a military spokesman claimed the attack had been repelled with 40 insurgents being killed.[22]

On 19 June, Iraqi government forces claimed to have regained full control of the Baiji oil refinery, after heavy fighting that left 100 militants dead.[23] An Iraqi witness who drove past the Baiji refinery told the Associated Press that ISIL had hung their banners from the watch towers and created checkpoints surrounding the facility, despite government claims of control.[24]

On 20 June, the town was still under complete control of the militants while the oil refinery was surrounded by ISIL forces and had once again come under attack.[25]

Iraqi security forces repelled several ISIL attempts to take the refinery between June and October 2014.[26][27]

The battle[edit]

Advance into the city and to the refinery[edit]

On 29 October 2014, Iraqi government forces and allied militias advanced to within 2 km of the city of Baiji in an attempt to retake the city and break the siege of the refinery.[28]

On 31 October, the Iraqi forces entered the town and captured two neighborhoods before their operations were halted due to a triple ISIL suicide-attack, followed by a ground assault, on the Army headquarters at the Tikrit University further south.[29]

On 4 November, two British Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 aircraft flying in support of Iraqi ground forces attacked and destroyed an Islamic State pickup truck using a Brimstone missile.[3]

On 7 November, police Major General Faisal Ahmed was killed by a suicide truck-bomber in Baiji.[30] Two days later, Iraqi forces took control of parts of the city. Using helicopters to attack the militants, they entered the city from the south and the west, and took over the city center and the al-Tamim neighbourhood. This left ISIL forces stranded between the city and the refinery, as Iraqi forces advanced slowly due to car-bomb attacks on the road.[31] It was reported that Iraqi forces had control of 40% of the city center. Many residents said that there were non-stop clashes in the area.[32]

On 10 November 10, a British MQ-9 Reaper identified and attacked a group of ISIL militants which had been laying improvised explosive devices in the area. A single Hellfire air-to-surface missile was used to conduct the attack.[3]

On 11 November, an ISIL suicide-bomber killed eight people in Baiji. The bombing occurred after a large crowd of people gathered around soldiers who had taken parts of the city center.[33]

On 14 November, it was reported that the Army had taken full control of the city, forcing ISIL forces to withdraw, with their next target being the oil refinery.[citation needed] The next day, Iraqi forces reached the facility's gates, breaking the ISIL siege of the refinery.[34] Three days later, state TV aired footage of soldiers entering the Baiji refinery for the first time in months.[35] An Iraqi reporter said that the security forces had "made the refinery a graveyard" for ISIL.[36] Later, the US Department of State congratulated the Iraqi forces for retaking the country's largest oil refinery.[37]

By this point, it seemed that the demoralized Iraqi Army had scored a badly needed, decisive victory.[38][39]

Fighting continues and ISIL counterattack[edit]

By 25 November, fighting in the city center continued, with ISIL fighters still being present in four out of 12 of Baiji's neighborhoods. The militants were also continuing to hold positions at the refinery's perimeter.[40]

Between 13 and 18 December, ISIL recaptured seven neighborhoods, including the central part of the city, after Iraqi government forces retreated, due to a lack of support and ammunition.[41][42] On 21 December, the ISIL jihadists recaptured the city and re-established a siege of the oil refinery, as Iraqi security forces continued to defend the main roads towards the Speicher military base and the Baiji Oil Refinery.[43][44][12]


On 23 December 2014, Iraqi security forces and Shi'ite militias fighters launched an offensive on Baiji,[45] after losing control of the city two days earlier.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Iraq admits Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian RG fight alongside Iraqi security forces".
  2. ^ "Operation Inherent Resolve Strike Updates". United States Department of Defense. January 26, 2015. Archived from the original on March 24, 2015. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "RAF air strikes in Iraq: November 2014". 22 January 2015.
  4. ^ "ISIS Weapons Hit by CF-18 Jets in Northern Iraq". CBC News. 11 November 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  5. ^ "Iraq troops 'push Islamic State from oil town of Baiji'". BBC News. 2014-11-14. Retrieved 2014-11-18.
  6. ^ "Iraqi security forces enter Baiji refinery". Al Arabiya. 2014-11-18. Retrieved 2014-11-18.
  7. ^ "Iraqi security forces enter Baiji refinery". Al-Arabiya. 2014-11-18. Retrieved 2014-11-21.
  8. ^ a b c "Iraqi forces, Iranian-supported militias report success in Baiji - The Long War Journal". Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  9. ^ "Military Skill and Terrorist Technique Fuel Success of ISIS". The New York Times. 27 August 2014. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  10. ^ a b Alessandria Masi (11 November 2014). "If ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Is Killed, Who Is Caliph Of The Islamic State Group?". International Business Times. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  11. ^ Matt Bradley and Ghassan Adnan in Baghdad, and Felicia Schwartz in Washington (10 November 2014). "Coalition Airstrikes Targeted Islamic State Leaders Near Mosul". WSJ. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  12. ^ a b c "Iraq". Rudaw. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  13. ^ "Iraqi security forces enter Baiji refinery: state TV". Reuters. Nov 18, 2014.
  14. ^ "BBC News - Iran jets bomb Islamic State targets in Iraq - Pentagon". BBC News.
  15. ^ "17 ISIL terrorists killed in Baiji". Iraq News. Nov 14, 2014.
  16. ^ "Iraq Forces Claim Major Victory As Bombers Strike in Baghdad; 97 Killed, 122 Wounded". Nov 14, 2014.
  17. ^ "Half a million flee unrest in Iraq's Mosul". Al Jazeera. 11 June 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
  18. ^ "Iraq army capitulates to Isis militants in 4 cities". Irish Times. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
  19. ^ "Iraqi city of Tikrit falls to ISIL fighters". Al Jazeera. 11 June 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
  20. ^ Raseed, Ahmed; Coles, Isabella. "Obama warns of U.S. action as jihadists push on Baghdad". Reuters. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  21. ^ "Sunni militants attacked on Iraq's largest oil refinery in Baiji". Patrika Group. Archived from the original on 2 July 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  22. ^ "Iraq crisis: Battle grips vital Baiji oil refinery". BBC News. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
  23. ^ "Iraq Forces 'Retake' Oil Refinery From ISIS". Sky News. 19 June 2014.
  24. ^ "ISIS Militants' Black Banners Hang at Beiji Refinery: AP Witness". NBC News. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
  25. ^ "Iraq crisis: Fierce battles for Baiji and Tal Afar". BBC News. 20 June 2014. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
  26. ^ "Iraq forces battle rebels around oil refinery". Al Jazeera English. 2014-06-21. Retrieved 2014-11-18.
  27. ^ "Iraqi troops repel attack on oil refinery; kill 37 militants". Xinhua. 2014-08-24. Retrieved 2014-11-18.
  28. ^ "Iraqi forces advance in new bid to end Baiji refinery siege". Reuters. 2014-10-29. Retrieved 2014-11-21.
  29. ^ "Iraqi forces enter militant-held town". The Nation. 1 November 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  30. ^ "Police general killed as Iraq forces advance in Baiji". Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  31. ^ "Iraq troops 'seize Baiji oil refinery town centre' from IS".
  32. ^ "Iraqi military troops reach Baiji city center". Press TV. 2014-11-09. Retrieved 2014-11-21.
  33. ^ Rasheed, Ahmed (November 11, 2014). "Suicide bomber kills eight in northern Iraqi city Baiji". Reuters. Retrieved November 19, 2014.
  34. ^ "Iraq forces break jihadist siege of main oil refinery". Business Insider. 15 November 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  35. ^ "Kurds in Kobani seize Islamic State arms cache; Iraq touts progress in Baiji battle". The Globe and Mail. Nov 18, 2014. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016.
  36. ^ "Iraq troops reach Baiji oil refinery besieged by IS". BBC. Nov 18, 2014.
  37. ^ "US hails Iraqi forces on recapture of Baiji refinery". Kuwait News Agency. 2014-11-21. Retrieved 2014-11-21.
  38. ^ "Op-Ed: Battle of Baiji — The turning point Iraq needs". 15 November 2014. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  39. ^ "Iraqi army says Tikrit next target after Baiji". Yahoo News. November 17, 2014.
  40. ^ "Islamic State fighters battle Iraqi forces near Baiji refinery". Reuters. 25 November 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  41. ^ "Islamic State recapture parts of northern refinery city Baiji". Reuters UK. 17 December 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  42. ^ "Islamic State recapture parts of northern Iraqi refinery city". The Jerusalem Post - Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  43. ^ Avaneesh Pandey (22 December 2014). "ISIS In Iraq: Kurds Recapture Mount Sinjar As Islamic State Group Retakes Baiji Oil Refinery". International Business Times. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  44. ^ IANS (22 December 2014). "Iraqi army retake military airbase outside Tal Afar". Business Standard India. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  45. ^ "Iraq Weekly Security Report 23 December 2014". EI InsideTrack. Archived from the original on 2015-07-06. Retrieved 21 August 2015.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°56′00″N 43°29′00″E / 34.9333°N 43.4833°E / 34.9333; 43.4833